Facts 9 to 12
9 The Flagstaff War (1845-1846)
Making this the fifth retarded war in the southern hemisphere, the Flagstaff War, if nothing else, exhibits the human spirit of tenacity. Yes, tenacity, and stupidity. You guessed it, this war was over a flagstaff.
Well, what can we say? People just love their flags, and there is an entire protocol for the correct handling of flags. It’s one symbol that you just don’t mess with. But the thing is, you might love your flag, but people also love their own land, and might not take too kindly to you placing a flag on their property.
Just imagine yourself in this situation. You own a plot of beautiful land that you call your own. One day some strange looking people come along and say that this place looks alright, so decide to move in. OK, kind of awkward isn’t it? So all of a sudden now you have some unwanted neighbors who have made themselves right at home, and to make matters worse they raise a flag of their own, right on your own land. That’s a little rude isn’t it? So what do you do? These people just don’t want to listen to you, and continue to ignore your pleas to stop. It would be frustrating wouldn’t it?
This was the situation in New Zealand in 1840. The British, once again, had decided to take what they liked, and the local indigenous population didn’t like what they saw.
Hone Heke, a Maori chief didn’t really like the Union Jack flying high on the mast, so he decided to do something about it. He went to the center of the British town and cut down the flag pole. Mission accomplished, no more flag, no more colonial rule, or so he thought.
Not to be outdone by a savage, the British erected another flag pole. which itself was once again cut down by Heke. So the Brits once again erected another pole to take its place, but Heke was as determined as ever to remove it, and cut it down for a third time. Showing true British grit and determination, they once again erected another flagstaff, but this time decided to make it permanent. To make sure it was going to stay put, the Brits reinforced it with iron, and an armed sentry. It was beginning to play out like a Benny Hill episode.
Back in London, the parliament decided that it was uncouth for flag poles to be cut down, and sent missionaries in to calm the situation. Heke didn’t really like what the missionaries had to say about accepting British rule, and on March 11, 1845, he and his tribe invaded the British settlement. What was to come was pure savagery.
Heke annihilated the British in Kororareka. It was a savage battle, and Heke topped off the victory by cutting down that blasted pole. But things weren’t going to end so well in the long run.
Over 10 months, the British flexed their muscle and dished out retribution as only the British can. By the end of the rebellion, the Brits had lost 82 men killed, relatively low in reality, and the Maoris lost between 60 and 94 killed. But the British did learn one lesson, not to plant a darn flag pole where it wasn’t welcome.
10 The Moldovan-Transdniestrian War (1992)
It all started shortly after the Soviet Union collapsed. Moldova was a former Soviet bloc country, and suffered a crisis. Two thirds of the nation wanted close ties with Romania, while the remainder one third wanted to be closer to Russia. It was a very similar situation to Ukraine. As is often the case in these Balkan states, war erupted.
OK, so far this seems all very normal for a war. The outbreak of war is in line with many similar situations in the past, and it was in the Balkans, which seems to be in perpetual unrest. But what set this conflict apart from many others was the fashion in which it was fought.
While the soldiers would battle during the day with the single minded goal of killing the enemy, at night they would go into no mans land and mingle. During the night, the front line soldiers got alog so well that they would make pacts not to shoot one another during the day. This wasn’t a one off event either like the famous WWI Christmas day football match. It happened every night for the duration of the war. One serving solder wrote of it as a “grotesque party.”
The war is like a grotesque party, during the day we kill our enemy, during the night we drink with them. What a bizarre thing war is.
When the odd war ended four months later there were between 316 and 637 dead on both sides.
11 War of the Golden Stool (1900)
The British kind of have a theme going here. They seem to have a prominent hand in many of the stupidest wars in history, and this is just one more to add to the illustrious list. This dispute, the War of the Golden Stool started over an actual golden stool, and British arrogance stupidity.
The Ashanti Empire was a an empire in modern day Ghana. This African empire had a sacred stool, constructed out of gold, like real gold. It was said to hold not only the power and authority of the chief, but also of the Ashanti nation, its dead and living. So it was a very special piece of furniture. Not something that just anyone could sit on. But leave it to the Brits to show total disregard for local customs.
In 1896 the Ashanti king was living his life in exile. The rest of the nation was left leaderless, but the British were all too accommodating, and offered to fill the void. So in March of 1900, the British Governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Frederick Hodgson entered the nations capital as the new overlord. Expecting the locals to welcome him with open arms, he ordered the sacred stool bought to him so he could sit on it. This was a surefire way to piss off the local populace, and that’s exactly what it did.
Could you just imagine if the roles were reversed and this happened in London with the throne of Great Britain? The locals would be outraged and would surely express their opinion very loudly. Well, this is exactly what happened.
When the Governer sent out some troops to find the stool, the local population was waiting and ready. Led by Yaa Asantewaa (the mother of the exiled king, they confronted the small number of Brits, and almost killed all of them. The few who escaped the initial contact ran back to Kumasi and barricaded themselves into a fort.
The siege of the fort lasted three and a half months, and by the time reinforcements arrived the defenders had run out of food and ammunition. Major James Willcocks, who headed the reinforcements, decided to take the war back to the Ashanti. Major Willcocks annihilated the countryside, slaughtering the Ashanti and razing towns. When the fighting ended the British had won the war, in their books, and the casualties were 1,007 for the British and 2000 for the Ashanti. But the Ahanti claimed victory because they never let the governor sit on their golden stool.
12 Lijar – French War (1883-1981)
For those who might be looking for Lijar on a map, it’s not a country. Lijar is a small town in southern Spain. So what could have possible sparked a war between one of the world’s super powers of the time and a small town in Spain, and why would France want to go to war with such a small neighbor?
In 1883, the Spanish king Spanish king, Alfonso XII was in Paris on an official state visit. Apparently some of the local Parisians didn’t take too kindly to his royal visit, and insulted and even attacked him in the street (that’s so out of character for the French to do something like that to royalty, I wonder what came over them?). Anyway, the mayor of Lijar heard of this outrage and the town declared a state of war on France, all 300 of them. The mayor was declared “The Terror Of The Sierras,” for his war mongering.
After 93 years of peaceful war, King Juan-Carlos of Spain dared to visit France. This time nothing at all happened, and the visit proceeded peacefully. Four years later the people of Lijar decided that their king had been treated well and dignified, and they would immediately declare a ceasefire and end hostilities with France.
After 98 years of peaceful war there were no casualties and no shots were fired. A few insects and pets may have died, but it’s most likely that they were not war related.
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